Integration, Amelioration and Definitional Exclusion
Dr Albert Atkin (Macquarie University)

part of: Critical Philosophy of Race: Here and Now
June 5, 2014, 9:00am - 9:30am
Institute of Philosophy, School of Advanced Study, University of London

Room G22/26, Senate House
Malet Street
London WC1E 7HU
United Kingdom

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  • Institute of Philosophy
  • Institute of Commonwealth Studies
  • Aristotelian Society
  • Mind Association
  • Analysis Trust
  • UCL Department of Philosophy
  • UCL Joint Faculty Institute of Graduate Studies
  • UCL Race Equality Steering Group


Nathaniel Adam Tobias Coleman
University College London

Topic areas


Integration, Amelioration and Definitional Exclusion (Atkin)

In this paper I do three things - first, I show that Government Policy directed towards Roma and Traveller groups is deeply flawed, and racially damaging. Second, I make explicit a "definitional" problem that lies at the heart of these policies. Finally, I examine the implications for reconstructionist accounts of "race" in philosophy, before showing how reconstructionists could amend and improve Government policy directed towards racial groups in general.

In 2012, the British Coalition government released a series of Communities and Local Government (CLG) reports on how to manage the integration of Roma and Travellers (RT) focusing on disparities in education, health and housing. But these inter-governmental reports echo similar projects undertaken by Labour governments in the 1960s. In this paper, I show that the projects of the 1960s not only failed, but compounded the problems faced by British RT groups, and that the Coalition's integration projects of 2012 and beyond will also fail. Importantly, though, the reasons are philosophically and socially instructive.

I argue that at the heart of these projects is a definitional problem, which fails by excluding the wrong people. This exclusion is two-fold. First, RT groups are excluded from the definitional project—only the white and the powerful demarcate the boundaries of race. Second, those that shake off the negative markers of race and are excluded and denied their racial identity by definitional fiat. This, I suggest, undermines these social projects. Finally, I show that there is an important lesson to be learned here for those engaged in reconstructive analyses of "race", but that reconstructionist accounts of "race" that have learned this lesson should be at the heart of government policies on "race", social amelioration and integration.


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